The New England Patriots succumbed to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33 on Sunday in Super Bowl LII, but the real loser is the National Football League itself. The big game's viewership, although a seemingly astronomical number, was the lowest for the annual event in nine years.
Deadline.com reports that the game on NBC from Minneapolis pulled in 103.4 million viewers, which is no small potatoes, but that figure is down 7% from the ratings of the previous Super Bowl and the worst since 2009 when the Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals matchup brought in "only" 98.7 million viewers.
Deadline calls this plunge "no surprise": "In an age of increasing streaming options and coming off a NFL season that was dogged by controversy and double digit ratings drops, the broadcast viewership decline from the Patriots’ win last year in Houston on Fox is really no surprise." Metered market results for the game "were down 3% from the 2017 big game to an eight-year low for the Super Bowl."
Gee, it's almost as if allowing an entire sport to be overshadowed by political grandstanding on the part of activist multi-millionaires who refuse to respect the flag and the national anthem is turning viewers away from pro football altogether. Who could have predicted it?
Apparently not the noodle-spined NFL owners, who have suicidally caved in to the unpopular anthem protests by such race-mongers as ex-San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett, while also exacerbating things by rejecting a veterans ad promoting respect for the flag. This has resulted not only in huge numbers of fans boycotting the league, but also in potentially stiff competition for the NFL in the form of a revived XFL kicking off in 2020.
For those keeping score, the most-watched Super Bowl ever was the Patriots win in 2015, which garnered 114.4 million viewers for NBC. That record is likely to hold forever unless the NFL woos its fans back by purging the politics and getting back to the basics.